Louisiana DWI laws prohibit intoxicated drivers under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, or controlled substances from operating a motor vehicle. DWI laws define intoxication and explain chemical tests police officers use to prove intoxication. Penalties for misdemeanor and felony level DWI offenses are clearly listed with the penalties for child endangerment if a child was in your vehicle at the time of your arrest. DWI laws also explain “wet reckless” charges and restricted or hardship licenses, legal remedies for offenders.
What Is a DWI under Louisiana Law?
Your first DWI is a misdemeanor offense under Louisiana DWI laws, which means you were driving while intoxicated by alcohol, controlled substances, or prescription drugs. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 is illegally intoxicated for most drivers. However, commercial drivers are illegally intoxicated if their BAC is .04. Underage drinkers are illegally intoxicated if their BAC is .02. If any amount of a Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V controlled substance is present in a driver’s blood stream, the driver is driving while intoxicated.
What Happens If I get Pulled Over?
If you get pulled over for driving while intoxicated, the police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The police officer will offer you a blood, breath, or urine test to prove your innocence. The police officer chooses the test, and the test results are used as evidence in court. If the test proves you are driving while intoxicated, you will be arrested and taken to jail. You will be charged with endangering a child if a child under 13 years old is in the car with you.
Can I Refuse the Tests?
You can refuse to take the test. Nonetheless, you will face stiffer penalties if your do. Your Louisiana driver’s license and operation of a motor vehicle in Louisiana is implied consent to take a blood, breath, or urine test at a police officer’s discretion if the officer suspects you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Refusing to take the test is only an additional criminal charge if you caused an accident, killed, or severely injured someone.
If you cooperate and take the test, your attorney may be able to plea bargain a “wet reckless” conviction under Louisiana DWI laws rather than drunk driving charges. The penalties are less severe.
What Happens If I Refuse Them?
If you refuse to take the test offered to you, your driver’s license will be immediately suspended for 180 days on your first DWI instead of 90 days as on conviction or 545 days on your second DWI instead of one year if you are found guilty. If you refuse to take the test, an ignition interlock device will be installed on your car. The device connects to your ignition; it prevents your vehicle from starting if alcohol or drugs are detected in your breath.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
You should expect to go to jail for driving while intoxicated. Even if your sentence is light for your first DWI, you will find it difficult to meet your obligations within your new constraints. Your penalties range from mandatory jail time and hefty fines and expenses to court costs and attorney’s fees. Your driver’s licensed will be suspended, and your car can be sold at auction. You will have criminal court proceedings. There will also be hearings at the DMW to get your driving record and get your license reinstated. You will pay more for car insurance.
What Happens If I Have a Child Passenger?
If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated with a child less than 13 years-old in the vehicle with you, under Louisiana Child Endangerment Law, you’ve endangered a child. You will face the greatest mandatory sentence for your DWI, and you will be investigated for child abuse. Your child can be put immediately into foster care. The severity of your sentence and penalties will be greater if the child suffered injuries or died as a result of your reckless behavior.
First Offense DWI
Your first misdemeanor DWI offense under Louisiana DWI laws requires 10 days to six months in jail. As a first-time offender, you may be granted supervised probation if you do specified hours of community service, attend substance abuse treatment, and take a court-ordered driver education class at your expense. You’ll pay a fine up to $1000, and your driver’s license will also be suspended for 90 days.
Second offense DWI
Your second misdemeanor DWI offense in ten years under Louisiana DWI laws carries a penalty of 30 days to six months in jail, a $1000 fine, and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Penalties may be increased by the judge depending on the facts of your case. A Louisiana judge will order an ignition interlock device; it requires you to pass a breathalyzer test before you can start your car.
Third Offense DWI
If you are pulled over on a third or fourth DWI in ten years, you are believed to have a significant substance abuse disorder. You pose a serious threat to the health and safety of the people of Louisiana. Your motor vehicle will be sold at auction. You will also be ordered to treatment for your addiction. Your third DWI is a felony offense under Louisiana DWI laws. It’s punishable by 45 days to five years in prison and a $2,000 fine. You’d also get a two-year suspension of your driver’s license.
Fourth Offense DWI
You are a threat to the health and safety of the people of Louisiana. Your fourth DWI offense within 10 years is a felony under Louisiana DWI laws. It carries a penalty of 90 days in jail to five years in prison as well as a $5,000 fine. On top of that you’ll get a two-year suspension of your driver’s license. Your car will be sold at auction.
Under Louisiana laws, a restricted or hardship license may be granted by court order to allow you to drive to work to support yourself and your family. You must obtain a Louisiana SR-22 proof of liability insurance valid for 90 days to apply for a hardship license.
With a hardship license you can also drive to doctor’s appointments and to the grocery store. You can drive where you absolutely need to go with an ignition interlock system on your car. However, commercial drivers are not eligible for hardship licenses.
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